Although Cholesterol is required for cell membrane integrity, hormone production, bile production, and the conversion of Vitamin D received from the sun into a usable form, it’s also strongly negatively associated with heart disease and stroke.
When someone has a heart attack or stroke, I was always under the assumption that they need to limit their intake of cholesterol, one of the nasty culprits of atheroslcerosis – the narrowing of arteries. In fact cholesterol lowering drugs, Statins (Lipator, Crestor, Zocor) are a $35 billion dollar industry and so many people are on them, yet, Heart Disease and Stroke is still the number one killer in Canada.
From a holistic perspective, we take the stance that cholesterol is not the cause of atherosclerosis, but in fact a symptom of a greater systemic issue. Conventionally, medical doctors believe that cholesterol is an important contributing factor because people who have atherosclerosis have higher than normal levels of total cholesterol in their blood. I was speaking to an MD friend of mine and we disagreed on the role that cholesterol plays in the greater picture and she explained that conventionally, genetic predisposition to higher levels of cholesterol is something they believe is important in disease management.
Holistically, as a general rule we believe in the old saying, genetics load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. To to understand what causes atherosclerosis in the first place, here is a brief description:
- Something causes the middle muscular layer of the arterial wall to become injured. This injury causes cell mutation and multiplication which leads to a bulge in the arterial wall.
- If the bulge gets large enough, the arterial wall will burst. In response to the burst, clotting takes place and minerals such as calcium get trapped in the clotting.
- Because of opposing electromagnetic charges, minerals attract fats to the clotting site – including cholesterol which is always circulating in the blood.
- This debris, including cholesterol composes the plaque that narrows the arteries and can cause the complete blockage responsible for both heart disease and stroke.
If we are healthy and strong, when the cell becomes disturbed (see point # 1 above) our immune system will react by sending T-Cells to the site of injury where antibodies will be created to discard of the messed up cells before mutation occurs.
Conventionally, atherosclerosis is treated by administering Statin drugs which lower cholesterol in order to control the plaque that is formed in the arterial walls – they are successful in lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 60% and so I agree with my MD friend that in order to mitigate risk incertain situations with certain individuals unable or unwilling to make lifestyle changes,Statin drugs have legitimate place in managing heart disease and stroke.
These benefits of Statin drugs don’t come without consequences – the list of side effects are staggering; muscle pain and damage, liver damage, digestive issues, increase in blood sugar (a co-factor in both atherosclerosis and Type II Diabetes), memory loss, and confusion. Additionally, patients may experience headaches, trouble sleeping, rashes, constipation, and nausea.
The issue at large as far as I’m concerned remains that although Statin drugs are used to manage heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol yet these diseases remains the number one killer in Canada….and this trend is just continuing. Something isn’t working, right?
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post to find out what causes arterial wall injury in the first place and learn how you can take control of your health through diet and lifestyle – preventing a disease is always cheaper and easier to achieve than dealing with the issue later on.
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